Bollywood: a popular form of entertainment that has been around since 1899. I am a huge fan of it besides one major issue: the large number of movies that contain songs which have horrible, derogatory lyrics in regards to women. I get it: no matter where you are, chances are that sex sells. Having “item songs” is a way of attracting a larger audience and making the big bucks. But what I want to know is how much is too much? Shouldn’t we have certain boundaries in terms of what is acceptable and what isn’t? Just because this type of objectification and sexualization of women has been going on for decades does not mean it is okay.
I can’t seem to get these songs out of my head or help singing along.
1. Tooh from Gori Tere Pyaar Mein
“All the boys go crazy when I shake that tooh tooh tooh tooh, there’s a line of lovers behind me when I shake that tooh.”
In this hit, Kareena Kapoor is basically singing about her butt. Is this the kind of attention we want from men? In my opinion, If this were to happen in real life it would seem pretty shady.
2. Haseeno Ka Deewana from Kabil
The opening lines of this song are about how men are fond of her, addicted to her and pray that they can get her. I would define this song as cringe-worthy. What makes it worse is that it was shown almost immediately after the blind heroine of the film was raped by two men multiple times, causing her to hang herself. I was at the theaters with friends watching this and could not even imagine what the parents who were sitting there with their children were thinking as they watched this.
I was completely shocked and disgusted at how this rape-revenge sort of film could include an item song like this which was completely unnecessary for the plot. It’s basically glorifying rape.
3. Chittiyaan Kalaiyaan from Roy
If an outsider were to read the lyrics of this song they would probably think this is a joke. “Look I have white hands, look I have white wrists, please take me shopping, please take me to the movies!” This is what the song is about begging a man to take you out and do things for you. And showing off your fair-skinned hands/wrists…It’s basically reinforcing the idea of women being dependent on men as well as promoting light skin.
4. Yaar Naa Miley from Kick
This is one of my favorite songs – up until the chorus, where she literally sings about how if she doesn’t find a lover/man she would rather die.
5. Chikni Chameli from Agneepath
In this item song, Katrina Kaif is surrounded by drunk hoodlums, dancing to disturbing lyrics in which she is basically a sexual object there for the entertainment of men. And what makes it worse is that she is self-objectifying! So much vulgarity.
It is almost as if she is limiting herself to her ability to please men and ‘light men’s cigarettes and pipes with her “hotness.”‘
6. Munni Badnaam Hui from Dabangg
This song is danced to at countless weddings, but do we even consider what the heck we are promoting? There is a difference between celebrating a woman’s sexuality and objectifying her. On numerous occasions, Munni proudly says that she is an item! Singing about how she lost her reputation for the man, how she is an object for her “darling.”
I am in no way bashing Bollywood or the songs it produces. I love these songs just as much as the next desi fob you’ll meet. And of course there are also songs which empower women, but the majority portray the opposite. It is important to be aware of what we are feeding our subconscious mind.
Are the messages in these songs what we want to give to the boys and girls in our lives? How do teenagers and other youth who are still discovering their identity perceive these kinds of songs?